She came to me in a dream. The water seemed to dance around her as she stared up from the lake, plump, pale lips parted as her sweet song surrounded me.

“Come live with me and be my love.” She trilled, a hint of hunger in her voice. “‘Neath lover’s lights that dance above.”

I couldn’t resist her. I tried with everything I had, but the lure was just too strong, and in the end, there was nothing I could do.

It started with dreams, but she found her way into every aspect of my life and now there’s no escape.

I have dreamed of her every night since I left England, and I think I will until the day I die.

I am helpless. Captured. Enchanted, and it’s all about to be over, but I want you to know that I tried.

I tried with everything I had, because I knew what it meant not to try. I knew the pain I’d cause if I gave in. I had spent years building up walls and defences, training myself to be what the world needed me to be, but it all crumpled the second I heard Nessa’s song.

The move to Drumnadrochit was supposed to be my fresh start. I told myself that I’d be far away from temptation, and ready to start life over, but that’s just not the way it worked out.

I wanted to love Ray. I really did. He was a great guy, romantic, tall, dark and acceptable looking, but that was the problem. He was a great guy. I wasn’t made for a guy, great or otherwise, but I knew I couldn’t have what I needed, so I pretended. He never noticed anything was wrong, and he was happy, so I tried to be happy too.

Our relationship worked best in the beginning, when we lived hundreds of miles apart. I kept away from… well, you know, but I didn’t have to play the loving girlfriend for longer than a few hours a day over Zoom, and as far as everyone around me knew, I was normal.

When he asked me to move in with him, it made me nervous, but it seemed like a good idea. I didn’t know anyone there, and it was remote, the kind of place where everyone knew everyone, so there was no way I could slip up and give in to my demons. I would be a rural housewife, or whatever, locked away in a cosy cottage, far away from my fantasies.

It would be fine.

For the first week, it was fine. I struggled a little with the intensity of suddenly being touched, kissed and embraced by the boyfriend who had no idea how agonising it was for his girlfriend. I’d smile, try not to flinch and power through it, but as time went on, I realised that I needed space, somewhere to decompress and stifle all the unpleasant feelings that were bubbling and boiling inside of me, so that I could go back, once more into the breach and be what he needed.

I decided I’d take a walk every day. Normally when he’d gone to work and I’d finished all the chores. It was lonely, but that was just how I liked it. I’d walk down through the village to the loch and just sit on the shore, secretly hoping that the Loch Ness Monster would rise from the water and swallow me whole.

Sadly, the Loch Ness Monster has never obliged my wish, but something else found me at the loch, something I’d never imagined was possible.

I heard her song, and couldn’t resist.

The world seemed to fade away and the sky blackened as the water began to bubble. I stared out into the loch, my whole body tingling, as every thought seemed to leave my mind, except my curiosity for the beautiful, haunting melody that I could hear up ahead.

I walked forward, almost compelled, the harsh winds suddenly soft against my skin as I knelt by the shore, plunging my hands into the deep blue, my body, electric as I felt hands reach up and interlock with my own.

“Come live with me and be my love.” The words were so sweet, her voice gentle and hypnotic. “‘Neath lover’s lights that dance above.” She rose from the water, crystal blue eyes, flowing, flaming hair and the same tempting, tender lips, surrounding me with song, just as I had dreamed.

I had dreamed of her every night, but I hadn’t thought much about it. I was always having dreams about women, so I had just enjoyed them as a little treat for myself and tried to forget them when the morning arrived. She was special, though. I couldn’t tell why, not then, but something inside told me that I’d never forget her.

“And we shall dine on your betrothed.” Our hands lifted from the water, locked together, and I was lost in her soft stare and her sweet song. “Then bathe his bones in marigolds.” She pulled me closer, her lips brushing against my own, and I was awash with apprehension as I leaned closer to a kiss that it seemed I’d waited my life for.

“Leigh!” We broke apart and I fell back, staring up at her from the soft grass as Ray’s voice rang out across the loch. “What are you doing out here?” I could hear him running towards us, but I couldn’t take my eyes from her. She smiled sweetly, giving a final wave before plunging down into the icy depths, a sliver of a silver tail peeking up above the water before vanishing with the rest of her. “I told you, the bank is slippery, you could fall.” Ray wrapped his arms around me, but I just stared down into the still waters, trying to make sense of what I’d seen, and more importantly, what I’d felt.

We went home, but the rest of the day seemed to rush by. I barely noticed the world around me and I counted down the seconds until it was acceptable to go to bed. I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that somewhere in my dreams, she’d be waiting for me.

As I fell to sleep, I could hear her, softly in the distance. The same sweet song as the world went away, and I was left in the darkness, surrounded by her voice and my longing for her.

I reached out into the darkness, crawling along the damp floor, watching it form into grass and mud, the water of the loch coming into view just before me as I followed her voice towards the shore.

“Petals will play in waters blue, our love will stay forever true.” My heart soared with every word, and I scrambled to the water, plunging my hands beneath the depths, frantically searching for her. “He’ll be found, washed up ashore, but you’ll stay young, forever more.” A bright light began to pulse under the water, the loch bubbling as she burst from the waves, reaching up towards me with a smile.

“Who are you?” I was breathless, my voice shaking as she pulled me towards her, our faces, agonisingly close. “Why do you keep bringing me here?” I ached for her, my heart pounding as she placed a fingertip gently on my lips.

Her eyes met mine and I was aflame. Her finger slowly slid down my lips, and at last, her lips became mine, tender and gentle, sweet and divine, and I knew, within seconds, that I belonged to her entirely.

Darkness fell around us, and she faded to black with the loch and the shore, leaving me alone, awoken and aflame in the soft sheets of my bed.

I rose, walking towards the living room where I could hear Ray, whispering in frustration as he lost another round of FIFA. His eyes were glued to the screen, and the knife felt light in my hand. The lights of the television flickered as the light in his eyes went out, and my true love’s song surrounded me once more as I dragged Ray’s body through the village and to the shore.

Her eyes seemed to sparkle as I pushed the man who loved me into the loch, his corpse causing a splash before he sank down below the surface. With a glittering smile, she beckoned me closer, and I stepped into the cool cerulean, wading until my waist was wet, and then my shoulders, which were soon embraced by her hungry hands.

“Come live with me, beneath the stars, submerge yourself in who you are.” She whispered, pulling me into a deep and passionate kiss as we fell beneath the water. “You can’t resist, the pull too strong, awaken lover, hear my song.”

As she held me in her arms, I felt a peace that I never knew I’d needed. At last, there was no more pretending, no more hiding, just quiet comfort in the arms of a lover. It was bliss, and for a moment, I thought I could be happy, but as the kiss ended, from the corner of my eye, I saw Ray’s eyes, wide open and staring as his body descended through the depths with a look of such sadness.

I pulled away, my heart sinking as I looked around me, my chest suddenly tight with panic, and pressure. I swam to the surface, falling against the bank, breathless, pulling away as she tried to summon me back to the water. I scrambled across the shore, falling against the grass, overcome with grief and disgust at what I had allowed myself to become.

“Why did you make me do that?” I sobbed, choking on my grief as she rested her head on her arms by the shore, pouting over at me.

“Because you’re mine and he was getting in the way.” She said it with such casual callousness that all I could do was stare back in horror. “And you’ll bring me more of these men.” I shook my head, almost blinded by tears. “Unless you want me to sing for someone other than you…” I felt a pang of jealousy in my stomach, and she began singing her maddening melody again, leaving me with nothing to do but obey. “You can’t resist, the pull too strong, awaken lover, hear my song.”

She was right. I couldn’t resist.

After a few weeks, the police stopped asking questions about Ray, and concluded that he’d drowned after slipping on the bank. I couldn’t help but wonder if Nessa had something to do with them suddenly giving up on the investigation, or if she had something to do with them not taking much of an interest in the uptick in men who went missing around the village. There was no point in asking questions, or trying to resist, because I could do neither.

It will all stop tonight, though, and you’ll know the truth. I don’t know that the truth will make up for all that I’ve done, but it’s all that I have to offer. I will be the last of the villagers she dines on, bleeding out on the bank as the stars stare down from the sky before she brings me with her to the depths, where I will rest forever.

You will read this confession on the notice board tomorrow morning, finally knowing the truth about what lies beneath the dark waters of Loch Ness.

There was a monster in that Loch, and truly I was her.